Team members react to boat racer’s death following RiverFest tragedy

Published 9:04 pm Sunday, May 7, 2023

PORT NECHES — Before the Thunder on the Neches boat races began Sunday, the group prayed for each other.

But at approximately 5 p.m., a collision resulted in the death of a longtime racer from Toledo, Ohio.

“These guys here are family,” one of his team members said Sunday night. “Everybody here knows everybody.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Those who were at Port Neches RiverFest with Bobby Briggs asked not to be named out of respect for his family.

“It was a racing accident that resulted in the death of one of our drivers,” one woman said. “He’s been racing for decades.”

And Briggs had been a part of the RiverFest boat races for decades.

“It’s a long-standing event and Bobby has been a part of this event for as long as it’s been going on,” she said. “He’s been a boat racer for a long time — generational, I guess. And it was two boats in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

According to information from Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Ryan Hall, the crash occurred near 5 p.m. on Neches River.

Hall said the collision occurred during a U.S. Coast Guard-sanctioned event.

Port Neches Police Cheri Griffin was made aware of the creash but said the waterway was not in the department’s jurisdiction.

Briggs is listed as a board member for Powerboat Nationalists.

— Mary Meaux contributed to this report.